- Colour: green or brown with black markings when on its own, and a darker brown when swarming. Its folded wings are darker than the rest of its body with several lighter markings. Its lower hindleg is orange to red with a lighter patch at the top. Nymphs (immature adults) are similar in colour but lack fully developed wings.
- Distinctive feature: the base of each hindwing is bright yellow followed by a broad black curved band. The tip of each hindwing is transparent and lacks colour.
- Size: males are 2.5 – 3.5 cm and females are 3.5 – 5 cm long.
- Diet: grasses and the grass parts of pastures including oats, wheat, barley and sugar cane.
- Flight: it makes a distinctive loud clicking noise when in flight.
- Breeding: the female digs holes in the soil up to 10 cm deep into which she lays batches of eggs (known as eggpods). Each hole is then covered with a plug of froth. After 2 – 3 weeks the eggs hatch into nymphs or hoppers (sexually immature adults) which can remain in the soil for up to 12 months. It takes 30 – 40 days for the nymphs to become fully developed adults and then about 2 weeks for them to start laying eggs. There can be two or three generations each year if rainfall is regular.
What to Observe
- Presence (to establish the first and last sighting for the season)
- Presence of a swarm
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Higher temperatures would be expected to cause these grasshoppers to develop faster and therefore appear earlier. In the southern part of their range they might move from a single generation a year to more than one, as they exhibit in the tropics. However, as they prefer moist coastal and sub-coastal regions with an annual rainfall exceeding 500 mm, drier conditions might reduce their range.Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?" by making the simple observations above.
When To Look
- From spring through to autumn when their numbers are highest.
Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout from late winter!
Where To Look
- Throughout coastal and sub-coastal Australia, generally where the annual rainfall is above 500 mm.
- Look in grasslands and around pastures and crops.
Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout anywhere in Australia!
- Baker GL 1993. Locusts and Grasshoppers of the Australian Region. Orthopterists´ Society and New South Wales Department of Agriculture, Rydalmere.
- Common IFB 1947. The Yellow-Winged Locust, Gastrimargus musicus. A Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours in Entomology Thesis, The University of Queensland.
- CSIRO 1991. The Insects of Australia. CSIRO Publishing.
- Elder RJ 1983. Locusts and Grasshoppers. Queensland Agricultural Journal 109: 189-191.
- Zborowski P 1998. Field Guide to the Locusts and Related Grasshoppers of Australia. Australian Plague Locust Commission, Canberra, ACT.
- Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria): doesn’t have the yellow colouring with a black band on its hindwings, instead its hindwings are all transparent. It also doesn’t make the clicking noise when in flight, and is larger (males are 4.5 – 5.5 cm long and females are 5.5 – 6.5 cm long).
- Australian Plague Locust (Chortoicetes terminifera): smaller and slimmer, with a large dark spot on the tip of its hindwings, it also lacks the yellow colouring on its hindwings.
- Eastern Plague Locust (Oedaleus australis): smaller and doesn’t have the bright yellow colouring on its hindwing.
Did You Know?
It can be a pest, attacking crops such as pasture grasses, oats, wheat, barley, triticale, sugar cane, sorghum, maize and millet.
The term “locust” refers to those species of grasshopper which have both a solitary phase and a gregarious phase in which dense, migratory swarms develop.
Swarms and bands of hoppers (immature adults) form when population densities are high. During this time, eggs are laid in beds with up to 3,000 egg pods per square metre! It is these swarms that can invade and damage nearby crops.